Full Duplex has partnered with Abacus Data to provide complementary analysis of the Ontario election. Abacus Data is conducting online surveys using more traditional polling methodologies. Full Duplex is conducting analysis of Ontario election activity using Sysomos Heartbeat and MAP, and our own proprietary analysis tool, Compass.

Yesterday we examined online election activity and participation trends to-date noting new participants continue to join online election chatter offering opportunities to measure new expressions of sentiment and stance. Today’s analysis builds on that by considering online mentions of the party leaders, associated sentiment and offers insight into their own use of social media. Tomorrow we’ll look at issues and how they’re playing out online.

This week’s analysis looks at May 26 through June 1, inclusive with a few looks at campaign-to-date.

Tim Hudak has the greatest share of online mentions

Tim Hudak’s share of leader mentions was given a bit of a boost last week with the emergence of the #Hudak8 and #HudakMath hashtags. Those hashtags appeared in 3,530 tweets which poked fun at the PC leader and math used in his Million Jobs Plan, helping the leader gain 2% to 54% on his share last week. Kathleen Wynne picked up 5% to 22% which pushed her past Andrea Horwath who shed 5% to fall to a 22% share. Mike Schreiner also slipped 1% to 2%.

There were some shifts in share of voice since last week’s analysis. Despite losing a 10% share, Tim Hudak maintains his runaway lead (52.2%). Andrea Horwath still holds second (27.4%, up 6%), Kathleen Wynne third (17%, up 4%) and Mike Schreiner (steady at 3.4%). The important thing to remember is that the volume of mentions is only part of the story. Sentiment is also an important measure. We’ll get to that shortly.


Despite the initial attention Andrea Horwath gained for her decision to not support the Liberal budget, and the extra attention that would normally be afforded to Kathleen Wynne as the incumbent Premier, Tim Hudak is the runaway leader in share of mentions within online election chatter to-date. There were some minor fluctuations in share from last week. Otherwise, each leader maintains their position with more-or-less the same share: Tim Hudak with 57%, Andrea Horwath with 22%, Kathleen Wynne with 19% and Mike Schreiner with 2%.


Lots of negativity

There are three aspects to measuring online sentiment. First is understanding whether people are saying positive, neutral or negative things about the politicians and their campaigns. Second is understanding the political affinity of the participants. Third is determining if the politicians are gaining or shedding support.


Negative mentions of Kathleen Wynne increased 4% to 61% and positive fell 6% to 16% since last week’s analysis. While Tim Hudak’s negative mentions held at 84%, his positive mentions managed a 2% increase to 11%. Andrea Horwath’s online situation improved as she shifted 7% of her mentions from negative (now 33%) to positive (now 40%).

Mike Schreiner’s leader-leading 84% positive mentions fell 9% to 75% as members of the online community began to challenge Green party ideas and the pointed language being used to draw attention to their communication. There were also a few tweets suggesting a vote for the Green party was a vote for the PCs. The online discussion about strategic voting is picking up.

Our analysis is based on manual coding of sentiment in a random sample of 800 tweets mentioning the leaders.


Political affinity

Clearly our sample reveals a skew away from the right end of the political spectrum. This resembles research we conducted last year on how Canadian opinions are shaped by online information and interactions. Our 2013 Matters of Opinion report includes an illustration of the “Engaged Canadian” as being politically left of centre. We’ll be conducting research for the 2014 edition of this report beginning next month.


Shuffle in allegiances

We observed a few tweets revealing defections within our sample. Two people indicated they’ll be voting Green for the first time. One person suggested he was once impressed by Hudak’s policy papers, “Now not so much.”

Beyond our sample, we observed a number of tweets indicating a shift in voting intention, including some noting family members are shifting their intentions, as well.


Welcome to the broadcast

The leaders of the big three parties are using their Twitter accounts as (infrequent) broadcast channels rather than as tools of engagement. This, of course, takes the social out of social media. We’ve observed similar strategies on their Facebook properties.

Mike Schreiner’s approach is very different from his counterparts. While he does issue fresh content, his online presence is largely driven by engaging with others — answering questions, discussing policy and sharing experiences. It’s an easier play for him given the significantly smaller level of online activity surrounding the Green Party. It also allows him to respond to questions and concerns which can make people feel heard.

In all cases with the leaders, their usage patterns have been consistent throughout the election. This includes the number and style of tweets issued.

The table that follows reveals the following:

  • the number of tweets issued by each leader, followed by the number of regular tweets (communication), retweets (amplification) and replies (conversation)
  • the number of times each leader was mentioned in tweets issued by others (and by how many unique Twitter accounts) with breakouts of regular tweets, retweet and replies
 Kathleen Wynne
Tim Hudak
Andrea Horwath
Mike Schreiner
Tweets issued731528142
.. Regular70 (96%)14 (93%)27 (96%)18 (13%)
.. Retweet3 (4%)1 (7%)1 (4%)73 (51%)
.. Reply00051 (36%)
(4,303 accounts)
(4,957 accounts)
(2,416 accounts)
(621 accounts)
.. Regular2,601 (19%)3,031 (24%)1,709 (26%)230 (15%)
.. Retweet6,787 (51%)6,104 (48%)3,153 (48%)985 (66%)
.. Reply3,959 (30%)3,545 (28%)1,679 (26%)280 (19%)

Liberals pull ahead of NDP

The most substantial change from last week in party share of mentions was a swap in the pole position. The Liberals picked up 6% to 39% and the NDP shed 9% to fall to 37%. The PCs picked up 2% to 15% and the Greens held at 8%.


In the campaign-to-date, things are even more stable as the NDP held on to a 39% share of mentions, the Liberals 36%, the PCs 17% and the Greens 8%.


Coming tomorrow…

Issues and how they’re playing out online.

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